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Home > History > The Division of Virginia

The Division of Virginia

This article describes the formation of West Virginia as the 35th state during the Civil War.

West Virginia Flag

West Virginia Flag

West Virginia, originally called "Kanawha" was created after the state of Virginia seceded from the United States in 1861. Citizens in the western portion of Virginia opposed secession and subsequently formed their own government called the "Loyal Government of Virginia" which gave legitimacy to the formation of one state within another. For many decades, the citizens of the western portion of Virginia had felt overlooked by lawmakers in Richmond. Unlike their eastern, slaveholding counterparts, those in the mountainous areas of western Virginia, where industry was taking root, had no need or use for slavery. In fact, when Virginia seceded from the United States, more than 80 percent of citizens in northwestern Virginia, near present-day Wheeling and Morgantown, voted against it, but their votes were never counted. It was said that banners honoring Abraham Lincoln were flown in those parts upon his election. President Lincoln approved the formation in 1862 and West Virginia officially became a state June 20, 1863.


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